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CLC: building for a green economy

Valerie Lannon

June 13, 2017

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) held its convention in Toronto from May 7 to 12 and invited its members and community members to attend an evening on “One Million Climate Jobs Challenge”.

Several dozen attended and heard about the need to focus our efforts on just transitions for workers, so that “no worker is left behind.” Speakers stated that the technology and skills are available to ease this transition, no government is taking this aspect of climate justice seriously.

Tony Clarke of the Green Economy Network (GEN) said that instead of subsidizing fossil fuels, governments should invest in the alternative energy sector, retrofitting buildings and mass transit.

Angella MacEwen, economist with the CLC, noted that GEN’s “Making the Shift to a Green Economy” provides a framework to ensure just transition plans are flexible to meet the requirements for specific skills in specific sectors.

John Cartwright of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council noted the small successes that have been achieved to date and said labour would be pushing for worker-based environmental representatives in every workplace, to ensure sustainability and good jobs.

Rosemarie Powell of the Toronto Community Benefits Network, a ten-year old initiative from the labour and community movements, has been part of important discussions leading to the municipal document “Transform TO”, which has yet to receive funding for implementation.

Marny Girard, with GEN, observed that none of the various federal or provincial governments’ climate plans feature just transitions for workers.


And this lack of government action is precisely where we need to focus.

Unfortunately, none of the discussion at the forum pointed in the direction of creating materials that could assist those in the labour, environmental, social justice and indigenous rights movements lobby government regarding just transitions.

Just think what could happen if there were educational materials, petitions, “talking points” that could be used by potentially thousands when visiting politicians at all levels, or when contacting them by email or phone.

Union members will need to step up to make this happen. Fortunately, at the Leap discussions at CLC, great networking happened, which will help move the just transition agenda forward.

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